Snow rollers, record busting cold and other fun, frosty Canadian winter factoids

Do you know about our frozen answer to tumbleweed?

Do you know about our frozen answer to tumbleweed?


As we get our toques out and brace for another solid four months of snow (or rain - we see you Vancouver), know that it could always be worse, as the following frosty Canadian winter factoids will show.

In the decidedly whimsical category, first consider the charming snow roller, a rare occurrence that results in cylindrical snow tubes being blown about a frosty landscape. Their rarity hinges on the specific conditions needed to produce them: snow just wet enough on top and just dry enough below to roll up when the wind hits them just right, and wind strong enough to peel them up and off the ground - but not so gusty as to break the fragile tubes apart. These weather weirdos are categorically adorable. Here's proof of the icy oddity from just last December in Newfoundland:

Not all winter weather is quite as cute as a landscape of dancing snowballs. Submitted for your appreciation are some other cold hard Canadian facts. Feel free to sprinkle them on anyone who complains about the weather this season:

Serious snow day

Tahtsa, British Columbia holds the Canadian record for the greatest snowfall documented in a single day. In 1999 on February 11, 145 cm (that's just shy of 5 feet or shoulder height to a small moose) covered the city. Maybe start storing your shovels in the attic.

Lasting blasts of cold

Yellowknife can proudly claim a record setting 20 consecutive days of extreme cold. The temperature dropped -37C or lower every single day from December 31, 1993 to January 19, 1994.

Sometimes, Summer never comes.

Eastern Canada saw no summer in the the year of 1816. Trees going through an early autumn lost all their leaves in June when a cold snap hit. Naturally, our hardy people made the best of it by sledding over the ample snowfall. But by July, folks were still trying to thaw their frozen water pipes and birds, having migrated here from warmer climates, were reportedly dropping dead in city streets. You know, like the apocalypse.   

Keep your spirits up

Hudson's Bay Company employee Peter Fidler was the first to record that Holland gin became a bonafide gincicle at -27C. English brandy, he noted, froze at -32C. Rum was the most durable however. It only freezes at -35C. Something to keep in mind for any upcoming holiday party plans. Priorities being what they are, these were all carefully documented on December 29th, 1794.

All time low

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada (and North America) occurred in Snag, a little village in the Yukon. It dropped to -63ºC on February 3, 1947. If you like science, boiling water freezes in mid air at -41ºC. There's a reason Yukon Cornelius had a beard.

We really are the chillest

When it comes to cold, only Russia gives us a run for our colourful money.  At an average daily annual temperature of - 5.6C, we tie them as the very coldest nation on Earth.

Still, we always seem to just make the best of it. There's no shortage of frozen fun to be had across Canada. I mean, the alternative is to move out of Canada and head south. And for most of us with a maple leaf embossed on our hearts and syrup in our veins, there isn't a snow rollers chance in heck of that happening.